Exploring the Efficacy of Active and Authentic Learning in the Visual Merchandising Classroom
Abstract knowledge gained in the classroom can be difficult for students to apply in later work-related contexts. Utilizing active and authentic classroom learning allows students be involved with, evaluate and apply their knowledge to real world problems. Both strategies were implemented in a junior level Visual Merchandising and Promotion classroom through a project based learning environment. In this course, student completed three main projects, which included window displays for a local business and a student group, a national merchandising competition and an ecommerce project. Students were surveyed to determine their gains in critical thinking and professional competence, while community partners were interviewed to evaluate the students' work and professionalism. Results indicated students were able to apply course concepts, develop critical thinking skills and professional competence through completing each project. Community partners were pleased with the students' work and professionalism. Minor project modifications could increase these gains in the future.